NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 7, 2008

Last month, Israeli and Spanish officials engaged in a flurry of secret talks to avoid a diplomatic crisis because a Palestinian nongovernmental organization (NGO) filed suit in Madrid, seeking arrest warrants against seven former Israeli officers allegedly involved in the 2002 targeted killing of Hamas leader Salah Shehadah in Gaza.  This lawsuit is just the latest front in the anti-Israel "lawfare" strategy -- the frivolous exploitation of Western courts to harass Israeli officials, says the Wall Street Journal.

The detractors of the Jewish state are increasingly using civil lawsuits and criminal investigations around the world to tie Israel's hands against Palestinian terror by accusing Jerusalem of "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity."  In the process, the NGOs also subvert and interfere with the diplomatic relations of Western countries with Israel, says Anne Herzberg, legal adviser of NGO Monitor.  For example:

  • These lawsuits typically ignore the difficulty Israel faces in fighting terrorists who target Israeli civilians while hiding among their own civilian populations.
  • The accusations also ignore the measures Israel takes to avoid civilian casualties, including the strictest rules of engagement for any Western army.
  • While Israel is not the only country that has been subject to this sort of lawfare -- several prominent NGOs have filed similar suits against U.S. officials in France and Germany -- it is a primary target.

Moreover, the "lawfare" against Israel raises troubling questions, says Herzberg:

  • Why do NGOs supposedly promoting "universal" human rights only target Israel and fail to hold responsible Palestinian or Hezbollah terrorists for hiding among civilians -- turning their neighborhoods into legitimate military targets?
  • Why do these NGOs fail to seek "justice" for Israeli terror victims?
  • Why do the EU and European governments fund these NGOs under ironically named programs like the "Partnership for Peace"?

Europe's taxpayers may want to ask their leaders why they are footing the bill for these frivolous lawsuits, suggests Herzberg.

Source: Anne Herzberg, "Lawfare Against Israel," Wall Street Journal, November 5, 2008.

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